Technical education a life saver for many students
Reading your recent article about the Joint Technological District being approved by the State of Arizona stimulated memories of my old high school — Phoenix Technical School from which I graduated in 1954.
Phoenix Tech was a vocational school offering a wide variety of courses that would interest almost any young person. Students spent three hours per day in their chosen field of study and the other three hours studying state-required subjects.
Students could choose from fields such as Agriculture, Aircraft Engines, Airframe Maintenance, Auto Electric and Carburetion, Body and Fender, Carpentry and Cabinet Making, Clothing and Design, Commercial Art, Cosmetology, Industrial Electricity, Machine Shop, Drafting, Practical Nursing, Radio and Television, Refrigeration, Sheet Metal and Welding.
Why Phoenix Tech was closed in about 1956 is a mystery to me. Every student that graduated from Phoenix Tech had a job skill and could move immediately into the workplace.
Why did the State of Arizona allow the narrow-minded academic elite who oversee our educational system to abandon vocational education? It seems that after about 1956, the "academic elite" decided that either young people were going to adapt to the traditional education system or they could get out — and get out is exactly what many did. That is child abuse at its worst. Is it any wonder we have so many people who need social assistance and so many people in jail?
In the early 1950s, I was like a lot of young people today who are bored to death with traditional education. If it hadn't been for Phoenix Technical School, I would not have finished high school. Today, young people, as I was then, are treated by our educational system as throwaway kids.
I came from a construction family and am the only one to finish high school. My three brothers quit school in ninth grade and went into construction. My younger brother couldn't even read or write after eight years in school.
My education at Phoenix Tech qualified me for a job with a major aerospace firm, where after years of college at night school I ended up as a senior electronic development engineer.
Many students are able to adapt to the traditional educational system, but statistics show that up to 30 percent in Arizona cannot. Why do we throw these young people away? Why can't the educational system provide something acceptable for them just as Phoenix Tech did for thousands of students?
John Tavasci, Cottonwood-Oak Creek School superintendent, recently said, "Vocational education captures kids where their real aptitude and interests are and keeps them in school."
That is a very powerful concept that could save many of our throwaway kids.
A quote written by a student on page 65 of the 1954 Technician (school annual) reads, "I spend half of my day in our shop. A real paradise for those of us who like to do things. You should see the chances I get to ‘learn by doing’ while earning a high school diploma."
Please reread that quote several times. It is the secret to educating our throwaway kids.
H. Leon Raper
His memory will be in our hearts forever
My family and I wish to thank all of our many relatives, friends, co-workers and neighbors, for the love and support given to us since the death of my husband, Tom.
We have received numerous cards of sympathy, plants and flowers, all of which have helped us to get through grief-filled days. To all of you who brought food to the house, we want you to know how much it was appreciated. Thanks so much to the many of you who donated money to the APS "Look Sharp, Good Start" program in Tom's memory.
Tom was one of the people who started this program and worked as a volunteer throughout the years to keep the program going. This program provides new outfits for several Valley children whose parents are unable to provide new clothing for them, helping them to feel good about themselves, so they can "Look sharp" and get a "Good start" for the school year.
We know that God will always be with us and not all the questions we have will receive an answer while we are here on earth. It will take time to completely heal. We feel that Tom is at peace now and we know he is at the right hand of his Father who called him home.
We also want to thank Arizona Public Service for all they have done for us. Tom worked for APS for 29 years. People all over Arizona knew and respected him and his abilities as a lineman, foreman and finally as a project inspector for APS. He took his work seriously and worked hard to do the best job he could for his company.
Tom was a husband, a father to three children and a grandpa to eight grandchildren spanning from 6 years old to 18. He was very proud of each and every one of them. He always carried pictures of all eight grandchildren with him and had them in frames on his desk for everyone to see.
I do not believe Tom knew how many friends he had or how many lives his death would touch. I do hope he knows that now. He will be missed by many and his memory will be in our hearts forever.
Chris, Beth, Lyn & Christopher Scanlan
Dan, Cindy, Tyler, Buddy & Tanner Wakefield
Rick, Geri, Michael & Matthew Rocha